Veruvan Gold: On The Desharak Plant

A record of the spices of the Veruvan desharak plant, circa 1140.

    The desharak plant grows in the Veruva Valley floodplains. It has a pale green stem covered with tiny little needles that shelter it from the hot sun and keep away wild animals. The plant flowers with white petals that are sometimes stained with black ink-like blotches. They are always a pretty sight, especially in a land as arid as Veruva, but they also come with great culinary and economic value. The desharak plant contains two distinct spices.
    The first spice is a black powder made from grinding up the needles of the plant. It has a cooling and sour taste that can be used to balance out the hot and sweet flavors in your cooking. This spice is called desharak needle.
    The second spice is a yellow powder made by drying the flowers of the plant for several days in the sun, during which time they yellow and darken, and then grinding them up. This spice has a rich umami flavor that can be compared to what is found in meat, tomatoes, or mushrooms. The spice is called desharak flower.
    The nickname ‘Veruvan Gold’ is used for both spices, although it was originally just for desharak flower. This was firstly because of the spice’s yellow pigment, and secondly because the flower is slightly more valuable on the market than the needle. Desherak needle is still incredibly expensive however, just much more abundant, and so the nickname was eventually associated with that one too. The nickname can sometimes lead to confusion, so you should always make sure you know which one you are buying at the spice market. They have very different flavor profiles and are absolutely not substitutes for one another.
    Veruvan olives and olive oil may be the area’s more famous export amongst commoners, but the nobility all but worship the desharak spices. Many traveling merchants have made their fortune from this plant. Olives can be found in many other parts of the world, but the desharak plant is truly unique. It is very important to the history of the Veruvan region.

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